My Artist’s Statement

Painting by Gina O'Connor

Art can be an expression of physical, emotional, intellectual, and instinctual activity within a person. Moreover, the combined effort of those factors exceeds the level any one part could attain by itself. Thus, for me, the process of creating art becomes a holistic and spiritually reflective activity.

It is with this emphasis on process, rather than product alone that gives me the most personal satisfaction as an artist.

My work is in both two dimensional and three dimensional forms. Primarily, I use raku in ceramics and oil painting, but also work with wood, bronze, watercolor, photography and mixed media. I love raku for its unpredictability and beautiful colors. As with clay itself, I find that raku, in particular, has a say in its own making. Similarly with painting, I never entirely allow myself to feel that I know exactly how the picture will turn out. I strive to let something beyond my intellect navigate the creation. Instinct and inspiration flow more willingly into a piece of art if one keeps an open mind. Often I find that something new can emerge which I had not originally conceived or planned.

The specific themes and symbols that I am presently working with deal with mystical landscapes, masks, mirrors, and doorways. I want to express the landscape and nature as a way for others to see and experience spirit in its purest form. Trees, mountains, streams and other forms of nature seem to exist without intellect, yet contain endless knowledge about life, growth, and self-acceptance, as well as death. Contemplation of nature, in this regard, can be a tool for healing people. Masks, mirrors, and doorways are also symbols and tools for transformation throughout history, in many cultures. They represent the liminal or in between space that rides the cusp of change. This state of being neither here nor there is a position of uncertainty, but is also a key to spiritual transformation and power. These are themes I have been interested in my whole life and anticipate their continued appearance in my work in the future.

My major influences are artists like Anselm Kiefer, Salvador Dali, Andy Goldsworthy, and Thomas Moran. While each of these artists expresses art in a different style, their process of making art as a spiritual or psychological practice is clearly conveyed in their work. As a painter, sculptor, and photographer, Kiefer uses a range of freely combined religious and mystical symbols on large scale works in abstract or surreal landscapes. He often mixes symbolically significant materials in with paint (clay, seeds, leaves, ash, and lead). He believes in the possibility of healing and transformation through artistic expression. Dali embraced painting as a way to study the psyche through subconscious images. He used Paranoiac Critical and Oniric-Critical Methods, in which the artist pays attention to his/her dreams. By painting his subconscious musings, he was better able to interpret himself and convey meaning through his work. Goldsworthy is an environmental sculptor who uses the natural surroundings to create art. He “feels the energy from nature and transcends that energy into art.” Process and decay are implicit. Goldsworthy's artwork reinforces the relationship of human existence within nature. His work shows that we as humans have some ability of controlling nature, but eventually, in the end, nature controls us. Comparably, Moran painted majestic landscapes on large canvases featuring small figures to show the power and spirit in nature as he traveled through the United States. Through his awe-inspiring depiction of places such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, he became a key factor in establishing our national park system. These artists’ dedication to the importance of expressing the mystical aspects of life and nature and the spiritual and psychological processes involved in making art has been an inspiration for me. My primary artistic goal is to strive similarly for a complete and cohesive effort of my physical, emotional, intellectual, and instinctual capabilities to achieve this kind of expression.